How to Survive -- and Enjoy! -- Long Car Rides

Cynthia Dermody
country road

Photo by abjbrewer

When many of my mom friends drive long distances to visit family for the holidays or go on vacation, they often set out in the middle of the night. This way, their kids sleep and they don't have to listen to the whining about being bored and the "are we there yet" refrain. I guess that's one way to go on road trips with kids.

But then Mom and Dad are always behind one day of sleep for the entire vacation. To this mom, who's stockpiled, oh, about six years of sleep deprivation now, that's the exact opposite of "vacation."

I'd much prefer to drive when we are all awake and actually, well, try to enjoy the trip. My husband and I are thinking about taking our 5 and 6 year old to Maine at Christmas, but it's a five-hour drive. I don't mind that so much because I'll be napping to the iPod so I can tune the kids out; it's my poor husband I'll feel for.

If we do decide on the Maine trip, here are some of the travel strategies my CafeMom friends said I should consider if I want to save my marriage:

  • "Buy a Travel Aqua Doodle -- it's soft for the car so there's no chance of injury during an accident."
  • "My favorite thing to let the kids do is the Crayola Wonder Color Books and paper. The coloring books come with markers and many different characters to choose from. You don't have to worry about them writing on their clothes, faces and your car!"
  • "Try doing a travel scavenger hunt. I did it with my kids 2 and 6. The younger one had to find pretty simple things while the other really had to wait and look."
  • "When I was little and we went on long trips, my mom got a jewelry organizer and hung it from the front seat. She put in crayons, coloring books, toys and anything you could think of to do in the car."

And CafeMom iluvcallalilies recently blogged about travel with kids on her personal blog, The KC Mom. Here's how she occupies her kids on long rides:

  • "Our favorite car toys are: View Master and Reels (I ration these out so they aren't lost), Toy Computer, VSmile Pocket, eeBoo's Tell Me a Story Card Game, Magna Doodle and dolls. Melissa and Doug also make terrific travel games with no extra pieces."
  • "We use the Star Kids Snack and Travel Tray. It's soft and safe, has pockets on the sides to hold colored pencils and Crayola Twistables (not crayons that melt on summer days) and the small fat coloring books and pads from the Dollar Store. The girls love having a "desk" in the car to work with."
  • "Make sure you have one element of "new" in the above list. Whether it is a new snack, new activity book, or new toy. On our upcoming trip, I stocked up at the library on new stories featuring favorite characters  that the girls haven't heard before. The NEW holds attention a bit longer than familiar music and stories and it's exciting to anticipate something fresh. Bonus ... because I use the library I didn't spend a dime!"

Are you planning a long family car ride for the holidays? Where are you going and how do you plan to survive it?


Related posts:

Unsupervised in the Car?

Traveling With Toddlers: Part 1

Kids on a Leash

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